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Pericles   


"-got beyond all keeping in,
Champing at Euboea, and among the islands leaping in."
The style of speaking most consonant to his form of life and the dignity
of his views he found, so to say, in the tones of that instrument
with which Anaxagoras had furnished him; of his teaching he continually
availed himself, and deepened the colours of rhetoric with the dye
of natural science. For having, in addition to his great natural genius,
attained, by the study of nature, to use the words of the divine Plato,
this height of intelligence, and this universal consummating power,
and drawing hence whatever might be of advantage to him in the art
of speaking, he showed himself far superior to all others. Upon which
account, they say, he had his nickname given him; though some are
of opinion he was named the Olympian from the public buildings with
which he adorned the city; and others again, from his great power
in public affairs, whether of war or peace. Nor is it unlikely that
the confluence of many attributes may have conferred it on him. However,
the comedies represented at the time, which, both in good earnest
and in merriment, let fly many hard words at him, plainly show that
he got that appellation especially from his speaking; they speak of
his "thundering and lightning" when he harangued the people, and of
his wielding a dreadful thunderbolt in his tongue.
A saying also of Thucydides, the son of Melesias, stands on record,
spoken by him by way of pleasantry upon Pericles's dexterity. Thucydides
was one of the noble and distinguished citizens, and had been his
greatest opponent; and, when Archidamus, the King of the Lacedaemonians,
asked him whether he or Pericles were the better wrestler, he made
this answer: "When I," said he, "have thrown him and given him a fair
fall, by persisting that he had no fall, he gets the better of me,
and makes the bystanders, in spite of their own eyes, believe him."
The truth, however, is, that Pericles himself was very careful what
and how he was to speak, insomuch that, whenever he went up to the
hustings, he prayed the gods that no one word might unawares slip
from him unsuitable to the matter and the occasion.
He has left nothing in writing behind him, except some decrees; and
there are but very few of his sayings recorded; one, for example,
is, that he said Aegina must, like a gathering in a man's eye, be
removed from Piraeus; and another, that he said he saw already war
moving on its way towards them out of Peloponnesus. Again, when on
a time Sophocles, who was his fellow-commissioner in the generalship,
was going on board with him, and praised the beauty of a youth they
met with in the way to the ship, "Sophocles," said he, "a general
ought not only to have clean hands but also clean eyes." And Stesimbrotus
tells us that, in his encomium on those who fell in battle at Samos,
he said they were become immortal, as the gods were. "For," said he,
"we do not see them themselves, but only by the honours we pay them,
and by the benefits they do us, attribute to them immortality; and
the like attributes belong also to those that die in the service of
their country."
Since Thucydides describes the rule of Pericles as an aristocratical
government, that went by the name of a democracy, but was, indeed,
the supremacy of a single great man, while many others say, on the
contrary, that by him the common people were first encouraged and
led on to such evils as appropriations of subject territory, allowances
for attending theatres, payments for performing public duties, and
by these bad habits were, under the influence of his public measures,
changed from a sober, thrifty people, that maintained themselves by
their own labours, to lovers of expense, intemperance, and licence,
let us examine the cause of this change by the actual matters of fact.
At the first, as has been said, when he set himself against Cimon's
great authority, he did caress the people. Finding himself come short
of his competitor in wealth and money, by which advantages the other
was enabled to take care of the poor, inviting every day some one
or other of the citizens that was in want to supper, and bestowing
clothes on the aged people, and breaking down the hedges and enclosures

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